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-   -   Is second fermentation necessary? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/second-fermentation-necessary-11886/)

Dragheim 08-03-2006 12:30 PM

Is second fermentation necessary?
I have always racked to second fermentation after a week or so. After having started to brew 25 gallon batches I have been wondering if this is really necessary. A lot of things would be much easier, if I could just leave it on primary for, say, 3 weeks, and then keg it.
I know that there is a risk of getting nasty flavors from the yeast cake, but still.... Has anyone ever experimented with this, or is it just the accepted truth? I would very much like to hear if anyone actually has any experience in this?

Or maybe I should just by a SS conical....:cross:



homebrewer_99 08-03-2006 12:40 PM

The whole experience of homebrewing is that you can do whatever you want. With that said, I've left beer in the primary over 1 month, but I still did a secondary.

The reason is to allow the brew to clear some more. That's the #1 reason for a secondary.

You could rack straight to the bottling bucket, but chances are that you'll trandfer some yeast if you are not careful while racking.:D

SteveM 08-03-2006 04:25 PM


Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
...chances are that you'll trandfer some yeast if you are not careful while racking.:D

And even this is no big deal, if you don't mind a bit of cloudiness and don't expect to store for a real long time.

homebrewer_99 08-03-2006 04:54 PM

True, but going back in time...cloudy beer was one reason for drinking out of a "stein" (ceramic stoneware).;)

Monster Mash 08-03-2006 09:54 PM

Most beers do not need a secondary. I brew 25 gallon batches also and most of the time I do not secondary my beers, I only do lagers and beer that requires a dry hop.

I let the beer ferment out, when it's at its target gravity I drop the temp down to the 50's and let it sit for about 4 more days before I keg. The beer clears up pretty quick after that...

Im brewing 25 gallons of Mild this weekend. Im going straight to kegs after fermentation is complete because the yeast drops out very quickly.

Grimsawyer 08-03-2006 11:54 PM

Couldn't you get a wine racking cane, take the tip off and suck the trube out of the bottom of the fermenter, or at least the bulk of it?

Beer Snob 08-04-2006 12:41 AM


Originally Posted by Monster Mash
Most beers do not need a secondary.

Well... at first I was going to disagree with this statement. In truth though you are probably acurate in that they do not 'need' a secondary. You will certainly get beer without a secondary. However in every book that you can get or advice that you recieve on the advancment of brewing better beer, a secondary is always what is recommended. Outside of steeping grain, a secondary is probably the most recommended next step for better beer.

I just noticed that you had mentioned that clearing happens pretty quickly. Clearing is one reason for a secondary, but is certainly not the only one. Aging I would say has more importance then clearing.

mulvamj 08-04-2006 01:59 AM

I've experimented with secondaries...
In my experience, secondaries are optional. I've been brewing for about 15 years now, and for several of those years i used only a primary fermentation before bottling. Currently, i do use a secondary, but i doubt that me or my wife would be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test. I've never done a 25 gallon batch, but i've done up to 10 gallon batches without secondaries with success. Personally, i feel that the secondary is "insurance" against off-flavors. Certainly, i wouldn't leave it too long (longer than a month) if you choose not to use a secondary, but you may run the risks of off-flavors. You could try it with a 5 gallon batch to begin with. But if you wanted to run a 25 gallon batch, i would recommend the following:

Run the batch in a primary only and bottle one week after primary fermentation ends (as noted by the bubbling). Then, i'd bottle and let it condition for a longer period than usual (to allow settling, aging and conditioning). Bust a brew, and hope it tastes good, cuz you got 25 gallons of the stuff! Of course, if you're kegging, which you probably are, i can't tell you what to do cuz i've never kegged.

Good luck!

Musthavbeer 08-04-2006 03:52 AM

I have been brewing AG for 4 months, so I am no expert, but I read everything I can find on brewing. Many award winning brewers do not use a secondary. The breakdown of the dead yeast cells is often mentioned as the contributing factor to off flavors but that takes a long time. Most often these flavors are produced by insufficient pitching rates, too high fermentation temps, or temp swings. Brewing boils down to fermentation, fermentation and fermentation. A less than perfect mash has little effect if the fermentation is good, but a perfect mash can make a lousy beer if the fermentation goes wrong. My next project is a temp controlled fermentation room.

SteveM 08-04-2006 04:34 PM

I use a secondary for specific purposes (mostly for adding secondary flavor elements like fruit, and for allowing things like rice solid residue to settle out). For my house beer, it is two weeks in the primary and then to bottle, and this method has never made anything but great beer.

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